The Tampa Bay Rays and the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg continue to haggle over a long-term solution to the team’s ballpark situation. Things are apparently stalled enough that the Rays are quietly threatening to relocate if the issue isn’t resolved.
Tampa City Council member Charlie Miranda claimed Friday that Rays president Brian Auld told him the team could relocate to Nashville if a stadium solution is not found in the Tampa area.
“They mentioned Nashville. They said Nashville wants to do it,” Miranda said, via Charlie Frago of the Tampa Bay Times.
Auld responded by issuing a statement clarifying that while a number of cities have expressed interest in the Rays, the organization has not been in discussions with any of them.
“During the conversation with Councilman Miranda, I explicitly stated that we were not in conversations with other cities — though numerous cities, including Nashville and Charlotte, have expressed their strong interest in Major League Baseball. We are solely focused on the Sister City plan and keeping the Rays in Tampa Bay for generations,” the statement said.
The Rays’ ballpark drama has intensified this week, with St. Petersburg mayor Rick Kriseman cutting off negotiations with the team over a new ballpark. Tampa mayor Jane Castor has signaled her willingness to continue talking with the franchise.
One thing is certain: there is a serious movement to bring an MLB team to Nashville, backed by some fairly prominent celebrities. Even though nothing is imminent, it’s fair to say that the Rays seem to be its leading candidate right now.